EAST ST. LOUIS, Il. (KMOX)-There’s a threat today to shut down the new Mississippi River Bridge construction project.
The Metro East Black Contractors Organization (MEBCO) is calling on the Illinois Department of Transportation to put pressure on the unions to hire more graduates of MEBCO’s construction training program, which IDOT initially backed.
MEBCO President Dr. William Mason says the program has 170 graduates, who are ready for apprenticeships, “We’re not going to sit idly by and let all that work go on here in East St. Louis, all people coming from everywhere, whites from everywhere, and blacks right here standing on these corners and can’t get a job. We’re going to demand that they give some of these guys jobs.”
Mason was asked if it’s fair to demand jobs for the new graduates, when the unemployment rate for construction workers in the area is near 20% and nearly 35% of area construction workers are underemployed, “We’re not asking them to get a journeyman’s card right now, but at least get them into the apprenticeship program”
Program graduate Tiama Dent is among the graduates looking for work, “We worked our butts off. We want the same opportunity that they have.”
Mason is giving I-DOT ten days to meet with MEBCO and solve the problem, or he says, “They might as well get ready to put us in jail.”
There’s no reaction yet from IDOT.
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